Priests Named in Sex Abuse Settlement -
Document Obtained by T&G Has Confidentiality Clause
By Richard Nangle and Kathleen A. Shaw
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
February 26, 2002
Worcester — A confidential settlement agreement between a Catholic priest and the Uxbridge man who sued him for sexual abuse included provisions protecting three other priests from lawsuits and public disclosure of their identities.
The settlement was the result of a lawsuit filed in 1993 by Mark D. Barry, who accused the Rev. Thomas A. Kane of molesting him over several years, starting in 1968 when Mr. Barry was 9 years old.
The document, a copy of which was obtained last week by the Telegram & Gazette, also prohibits Mr. Barry from publicly discussing or taking legal action against the Rev. Thomas Teczar, the Rev. Robert Shauris and the Rev. Monsignor Brendon Riordan, as well as the Worcester Diocese, the four priests' current and former bishops, and numerous diocese employees and representatives.
The names of the three priests other than Rev. Kane had never been publicly linked to the Barry case.
Since the settlement was reached in 1995, Mr. Barry has refused to discuss the case, citing conditions in the agreement.
However, Mr. Barry told the Telegram & Gazette in a 1993 interview that after he had been sexually molested by Rev. Kane, co-founder of the former House of Affirmation in Whitinsville, he was taken by the priest to rural retreats and offered to other priests for sexual purposes.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Barry alleged that Rev. Kane first sexually abused him when he was a boy and a parishioner at St. Mary's Church in Uxbridge.
The October 1995 settlement is signed by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly and Monsignor Edmond T. Tinsley of the Worcester Diocese. Mr. Barry, who now lives in Northbridge, was awarded $42,500.
Bishop Reilly, in a statement issued last night, said, "I signed the agreement on behalf of the Diocese of Worcester in good faith as prepared and approved by the legal counsels representing all the parties and agreed upon by Mr. Barry at the time.
"If Mr. Barry seeks services from the Diocese of Worcester such as spiritual or psychological counseling, we are always open and ready to receive such a request."
According to Daniel J. Shea, a Houston lawyer who has represented clients who have accused priests of sexual abuse and who is familiar with such cases in the Worcester Diocese, the agreement clearly suggests that while a boy, Mr. Barry was "passed around" by "a ring of priests" for sexual purposes.
The diocese, through one of its lawyers, yesterday denied that such a ring of priests existed, and stressed that no criminal charges ever were brought in the matter.
J. Gavin Reardon Jr., of the Reardon and Reardon law firm that represents the Worcester Diocese, said the October 1995 settlement "included the names of other individuals who were mentioned in the course of discovery during that litigation but were not sued." Mr. Reardon, who did not handle the lawsuit, said he did not know the context in which the names arose during the discovery process.
Rev. Teczar, Rev. Shauris and Monsignor Riordan, he said, "were not named in the complaint in the matter and were not defendants.
"The settlement was made with the specific understanding that each of the defendants and other individuals named during discovery denied Mr. Barry's allegations, including any allegation that they individually or jointly abused Mr. Barry or had any plan or scheme to abuse him," Mr. Reardon added. "Since the others were named in the discovery, they were included in the settlement to resolve the case completely at one time."
Rev. Teczar, now living in Dudley, was sued in 1996 by a Webster man who said he was repeatedly abused by the priest in the 1970s. A Feb. 13 article in the Sunday Telegram detailed a lengthy list of suspicions the diocese had concerning Rev. Teczar as early as 1967, but noted that no formal action was taken against the priest for several years other than to frequently reassign him.
In the late 1980s, Rev. Teczar took an assignment near Fort Worth, Texas, but his career there ended in 1993 after he quickly left the state during a criminal investigation into child molestation.
Rev. Shauris was listed as being on leave from the diocese in 1995. He has no assignment from the church and is listed as a part-time faculty member at the Worcester campus of Curry College.
Contacted at his Worcester home yesterday, Rev. Shauris said, "I have nothing to say to you," then hung up the phone.
Monsignor Riordan is known to have been involved in financial transactions with Rev. Kane. He is not associated with the Worcester Diocese and is assigned to St. Aloysius parish in Great Neck, N.Y.
T&G reporters placed several calls to the parish on Friday and yesterday, seeking comment from the monsignor, who was said to be unavailable. He did return a reporter's call on Sunday night, but the reporter was not working at the time.
Mr. Shea, who is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and who represented Edward Gagne in his sexual abuse lawsuit against the diocese, said he was shocked when he learned the contents of the secret agreement.
"Either a federal or state grand jury should be convened immediately," he said.
The settlement document outlines conditions of the agreement and is dated Oct. 6, 1995. Bishop Reilly had been leading the Worcester Diocese for less than a year when he signed the agreement.
Mr. Shea said the document appears to open the door to charges against Rev. Kane, including transporting a minor across state lines for sex.
"I can only conclude that there was a ring of priests who passed Mr. Barry around," Mr. Shea said.
The lawyer said that because Monsignor Riordan lives in New York, any involvement by him would broaden considerably the scope of any criminal charges stemming from Mr. Barry's accusations. He said the situation appears to warrant an investigation by Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte.
Mr. Shea said the agreement demonstrates that Bishop Reilly and Monsignor Tinsley had "actual knowledge" of criminal accusations lodged by Mr. Barry and were part of an effort to keep those accusations out of the public's view.
Diocesan lawyer Reardon denied Mr. Shea's assertion, adding that there is no evidence to suggest that is the case.
Mr. Barry alleged in his suit that he was forced by Rev. Kane to perform sexual acts at St. Mary's Church in Uxbridge beginning in the 1970s. Mr. Barry was living in Uxbridge at the time and was an altar boy at the church.
He alleged that the sexual abuse also occurred at the former House of Affirmation in Whitinsville, a psychological treatment and counseling center for the religious that Rev. Kane co-founded and directed.
Mr. Barry said Rev. Kane plied him with liquor and gave him money and expensive gifts.
As he grew older, he said, he was taken to rural retreats where he was offered by Rev. Kane to other priests for sexual purposes.
Rev. Kane was placed on administrative leave by then-Bishop Timothy P. Harrington after the Barry lawsuit was filed. Rev. Kane never again received an assignment from the diocese, but the diocese has continued to pay Rev. Kane a stipend. In a 1999 deposition in another lawsuit, Rev. Kane said he had moved to Mexico and was teaching English.
Rev. Kane was one of more than a dozen priests accused in the 1980s and 1990s of sexually abusing parishioners in the Worcester Diocese. Subsequent lawsuits and, in some cases, criminal charges against priests rocked the diocese and focused widespread attention on how church authorities investigated and handled allegations involving members of the clergy.
Rev. Kane left the House of Affirmation in 1986 amid allegations of financial improprieties brought by 11 center managers and executives. The facility was closed in 1989.
The issue of a "loose association or network" involving sexual activity by priests arose publicly in 1993 when 20 priests were called to the law office of then-diocesan lawyer James Reardon at specific times so that one priest would be gone from the questioning before another arrived, according to lawyers who represented some of the priests at the time.
The lawyers told the T&G that their clients were ordered by then-Bishop Harrington to undergo interviews in which they were questioned about activity unbecoming of priests and if they were part of any group sexual activity involving minors.
Richard Nangle can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; Kathleen A. Shaw can be reached at email@example.com
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